The first and most important point our new tutor brought to light was the fact that there is a significant difference between a story and a narrative. In this module we will not be focusing on the story itself but rather how a story is put together. This is a concept that is completely foreign and new to me but nonetheless, I look forward to learning about it and eventually constructing my own digital narrative!
Narratology is the study of the how stories are structured and made in way that lures in an audience. We will be focusing on the methods used to help make the narrative itself invisible which is important in order for the audience to immerse themselves completely into the diegesis.
Our tutor explained that it is something that goes against our human nature: that rather than getting immersed completely in the story, we are asked to look at the underlying structure and the how the story is constructed which can be quite tricky. To ease us into the module whilst also giving us a better understanding of what exactly is being asked of us, we watched two excerpts and were asked to try and find aesthetic and technical devices used in order to engage the audience.
8 Bullets – Frank Ternier (2014)
The story is being relayed to us which subconsciously makes us feel as though we are in his head therefore impacting our connection towards the protagonist and his story.
Sound can help the audience determine what is about to happen before it actually happens. The increase in volume shows a growing sign of menace whilst the different narration voices, such as the young girl, stir a sense of emotion and sympathy. The use of diagetic and non-diagetic noises also make the animation seem more authentic and helps bring it to life.
As well as being a great way of shortening the timeline, flashbacks are also a popular method used in order to show the audience events that have happened in the past, giving us more details and better insight of the story.
Combination of Styles
The style of the animation changes according to what is being portrayed in the scene giving us a better idea of the nature of the scene. The animation used for the flashbacks showing a person being extremely violent and threatening changed to a more graphic and disturbing style to further enhance the sense of danger.
Next Floor – Denis Villeneuve (2008)
The lack of dialogue is replaced by sounds such as the sound of eating and classical music. When these diagetic sounds are being played, the audience associates them with a sort of status quo meaning that whenever these sounds are played the audience gets a sense of equilibrium.
In certain scenes, we are also prepared for what’s about to come through the use of sound. For example, before the table falls through, we are shown the floor underneath the table which is accompanied by a series of groaning and creaking noises implying that the floor might be giving way to the pressure.
The video then moves on to show us where all the action will be taking place and what the main focus of the video will be. The way this is done is through what is known as the establishing shot which is a conventional device used mostly to begin a narrative.
These are a series of close ups of specific characters deliberately used to draw the audience in rather than being neutral observers. It gives us closer engagement with the characters by allowing us to see what we would see if we had to be present in that scenario.
The purpose of a graphic match is to make the scene look somewhat similar in order for the audience to understand what has happened. In this case, it informs us that the table fell through the ceiling and is now on a lower floor. It also implies that we have advanced along the timeline. In case the audience still doesn’t understand what has happened, we also get a shot of the ceiling as a confirmation.
The shot below is an over the shoulder shot which causes the audience to identify more with the spectator (bald man) rather than the people at the table which we have identified with up to this point.
By now the audience recognises a sort of pattern:
1. Waiters bring food to the table which the people at the table scarf down.
2. Due to the pressure, the table falls through the floor and lands onto the next floor.
3. The waiters move onto the next floor and resume waiting whilst the people at the table also resume eating.
However, this pattern is broken when the table does not land on the next floor but instead falls through continuously. Disturbing the expectations of the audience is important in order for them to not to get too comfortable with the narrative and be able to predict events which will result in the audience becoming bored.
The short film ends very similarly to how it started: by zooming in onto the spectator’s face looking directly at us and making us feel quite uncomfortable once again which kind of forces us to think and reflect about what we have just seen. What is the theme of the film? Who do you relate to the most?
We are also left with a lot of unanswered questions. Did another group of people come in? Are the other characters still falling through floors?